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NFL Playoffs against the spread: Bengals over Chargers, 49ers over Packers

We're off to an 0-2 start here, but Sunday's slate of wild card games look a bit easier to judge...if such a thing exists in the NFL anymore.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

After just two short games, my hopes of topping or duplicating the miracle 10-1 run of last year's playoffs against the spread is over.

Going 0-2 yesterday (picked the Colts -2.5 and the Eagles -2.5), I'm going to get back on track today with the Bengals' first playoff win of nearly my entire lifetime and San Francisco outlasting the Packers in Lambeau despite both teams being inoperable with frostbite.

Bengals (-7) over Chargers

Had Kansas City's Ryan Succop hit the 41-yard field goal he missed last week against San Diego, or the Steelers had beaten any one of the sub-.500 teams to which they lost this season, this would be the playoff game the Steelers earned. That's just how it goes. Too bad, not entirely sad.

The Bengals, though, are one of the more dangerous playoff teams we'll see from a betting perspective. Not quite as inconsistent and unpredictable as the Colts, but more capable of getting four quarters of horrendous quarterback play. The Bengals qualified for the postseason despite a four-interception game from Andy Dalton last week against the Ravens. It's hard to imagine how a team can win despite that, but the even more ridiculous part is they still scored 34 points (seven of those off an interception returned for a touchdown by cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick).

Dalton has been horrible in two postseason games, and just out of the idea he can't play three games in a row at that low of a level, we're going with the Bengals in this game.

49ers (-3) over Packers

It's rare to see a road team favored in the playoffs, but with air temps hovering around -3, and wind chills expected in the -35 range at kickoff, it's tough to discern home field advantage. Oddly, though, the 49ers are much better equipped for cold weather football than the Aaron Rodgers-led Packers and their quick strike passing offense.

The issue here simply is the Packers are an underwhelming defensive team that can be run on by anyone. San Francisco wants to run the ball, and likely will to a high degree.

The three-point spread gives me pause for thought, and it's very hard betting against Rodgers at home, but San Francisco can keep him nice and frosty on the sideline with a three-headed rushing attack all game.


San Diego and Cincinnati kick off at 1:05 p.m. ET and Green Bay and San Francisco start at 4:40 p.m. ET.